Winthrop University: Winthrop Once Again Named a Voter Friendly Campus
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Winthrop Once Again Named a Voter Friendly Campus

March 12, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Voter Friendly Campus initiative is led by the national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
  • The mission of the Voting Friendly designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process. 

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University is one of more than 200 U.S. campuses designated this spring as a “Voter Friendly Campus.”

The initiative, led by national nonpartisan organizations Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project (CVP) and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, held participating institutions accountable for planning and implementing practices that encourage their students to register and vote in 2020 elections and in the coming years. 

Winthrop is one of four colleges in South Carolina to earn the designation.

Winthrop Interim President George Hynd and his wife, Alison, joined the effort to encourage students to get out and vote last November. “We have been impressed with the civic engagement by the Winthrop campus,” said Hynd. “Winthrop not only embeds civic lessons throughout its curriculum and gives students plenty of opportunities to hear about policy issues, but it also helps register students and encourages them to vote either in York County or their hometowns.”
The mission of the Voting Friendly designation is to bolster efforts that help students overcome barriers to participating in the political process.

Winthrop previously earned the Voter Friendly Campus designation in 2019 and 2017. 

The university’s strategies in the 2020 election were a mixture of some old and some new, especially due to COVID-19, according to Katarina Moyon, director of the John C. West Forum of Politics and Policy. She led an eight-member steering committee of faculty and staff, as well as approximately 20 student voting ambassadors from a variety of campus backgrounds, including athletics, Greek Life, student government and more.

Moyon said that York County continues to attract presidential primary candidates with visits to Rock Hill by at least 11 candidates in 2019 and 2020 running for national office. Both the newly elected president and vice president came to Rock Hill to rally support, with Winthrop students attending both events. Once the primaries were over, Moyon said students had weekly opportunities to learn about the political process through online speakers and programming.

With COVID-19 restricting what events were held, Moyon said the steering committee and others developed an entirely new set of online tools and approaches for reaching students.

Some of the university’s efforts were:

* Training 20 Student Voting Ambassadors who focused heavily on a social media push to activate students to register and vote. Engagement occurred on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, as well as several election-related information events on Zoom.
* Maintaining, via the West Forum, a voter information website and sending a series of emails to students about voting procedures. The forum also created common slide presentations containing voting information for any faculty and staff member to use as part of his or her student engagement efforts.
* Hosting a five-part series on the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage.
* Creating a voting mural, designed by art students, between McLaurin and Rutledge buildings and other voting-related art.
* Registering to vote all of the university's student-athletes on each sports team.
* Forming teams of graduate social work students to register and inform North and South Carolina voters as part of the students' semester-long field placements. 

As part of the Voter Friendly application, Winthrop evaluated its campus plan, how the university facilitated voter engagement efforts, and offered a final analysis of its efforts- all in the face of the disruption caused by a global pandemic. The Voter Friendly designation is valid through December 2022. 

The institutions designated as Voter Friendly Campuses represent a wide range of two-year, four-year, public, private, rural and urban campuses. The program is ultimately serving millions of students.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at longshawj@winthrop.edu or at 803/323-2404.

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Last Updated: 10/4/21